Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Ashton appoints Poul Skytte Christoffersen

"Ashton appoints Poul Skytte Christoffersen as special adviser to her private office to help Catherine Ashton setting up new foreign policy service. 
Skytte Christoffersen's long career in EU affairs, dating back to 1977 when he joined Denmark's permanent representation to the EU, combines experience of the Council of Ministers and the European Commission. He has the network and the know-how to sort out many of the difficulties that will arise in setting up the EEAS. He knows how to cope with the competing expectations of the Commission and the member states. 

Skytte Christoffersen was head of the private office of Nils Ersbøll, the Danish secretary-general of the Council, from 1980 to 1994. After a year back at the ministry of foreign affairs in Copenhagen, he returned to Brussels as Denmark's permanent representative in 1995, a position he was to hold until 2003. Skytte Christoffersen was widely tipped to take over the day-to-day running of the secretariat of the Council in 1999 as deputy to Javier Solana, who had been appointed the EU's first foreign policy chief and secretary-general of the Council. But Gerhard Schröder, Germany's chancellor, who was chairing the European Council meeting, had cut a deal with Jacques Chirac, then France's president, that the job should go to Pierre de Boissieu, France's permanent representative to the EU.  

In 2003 he was posted to Rome to be Denmark's ambassador to Italy. He was also the country's permanent representative to the international food and agriculture organisations based in Rome: the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. (farmer: the former working place of Solana's mother Nieves Hayat Mathews de Madariaga) 

In 2006 he returned to Brussels as head of the private office of Mariann Fischer Boel, the then European commissioner for agriculture, replacing Claus Sørensen. He was seen as a very effective operator within the Commission, and his experience with the United Nations agencies in Rome informed the Commission's €1 billion food facility for food security in developing countries.  

Skytte Christoffersen is quietly spoken, but widely respected for his intelligence and political skills. Alexander Stubb, Finland's foreign minister, says he has “an institutional memory unlike anyone else in Brussels”. Skytte Christoffersen turns 65 next year and was scheduled to become Denmark's ambassador to Belgium in September. If he has the freedom to operate, Ashton's decision to bring him on board is a significant boost to the chances of creating an effective foreign service for the EU."


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